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After another night out at a mediocre Italian restaurant in Seoul and after cooking up our own spaghetti at home, I’ve decided to offer this list of totally free advice for anyone planning on opening an Italian restaurant in Korea.

1. Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, please buy something other than spaghetti. It will set you apart. Penne, bow ties, spirals, ravioli, tortellini, anything. It isn’t even hard to find. Just go to Home Plus.
2. Don’t serve Tobassco. Grind up some red chilis into flakes. Not sure where you will find the whole chilies though.
3. Invest in some pepper grinders for fancy topping at the table. I’d prefer if you found some comically large ones in the same family as this whisk, but that’s up to you.
4. Cut your menu in half. then do it again. Offering all possible permutations of chicken, shrimp, bacon and oysters with garlic, tomato and cream sauce is boring. There are tons of great Italian dishes that are still really simple and can be made in mass quantities that use other ingredients. If you aren’t sure about cutting down your menu, please refer to any Kitchen Nightmares episode.
5. While you’re cutting it down and adding something other than spaghetti, how about some lasagna or giant meatballs? Or chicken parmesan? I bet Koreans would love that. Just call it chicken cutlet with cheese and tomatoes.
6. Serve cocktails. You can still offer some bad, overpriced wine for people who are desperate, but give people a selection of cocktails. And I’m not talking about whole bottles of Macallen 12 year and Johnny Walker Black. Single drinks at reasonable prices. You’ll make a killing.
7. Stop chilling your red wine. Immediately. Please pass this tip on to every other establishment in Korea.
8. Have someone put just a little bit of care into the music playlist. Don’t put John Mayer or Norah Jones on repeat and don’t put on whatever playlist or radio station that inserts Eminem after the salad arrives. It kills the mood.
9. And if you offer some free bread and cheap olive oil in a fancy container the foriengers will come running on word of mouth.

I ask only for an occasional free meal or, in the case of wild success, a dish named after me. Make sure it includes bacon and plenty of cheese.

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